Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Circle of Life

We have an intensely aggravating circle, very similar to boxing, going on at bedtime in our house right now.

I always thought that when the kids grew up to a reasonable age, we would be getting that beloved bedtime, where you curl up in your comfy bed and listen to the quiet while you drift off to sleep, as one of the benefits.  Unfortunately, I neglected to take a couple of things into consideration.  Like two cats and a new puppy.

Having a new puppy is very similar to having a two year old.  They do things that drive you crazy and run around like they've lost their mind until they finally collapse from exhaustion, about the time you are weeping from exhaustion and frustration and ready to make a shelter run.

Our two cats ruled the roost before we brought Jackson into the picture.  Their days were normally spent on the couch in the family room and their nights in our bedroom.  We had a routine and, when we went up to bed around 10:00, the cats would migrate with us to the bedroom.  Since the older kids are teenagers, they are pretty much on their own to go to bed when they feel it proper and, since Ben is in college, Jamie never fails to rise before we do to get into the shower, and Joey still gets tucked in with his light extinguished for him, I never put much thought into the nighttime routine of the other members of my family.  We run a fan in our bedroom after lights out and it blocks out their comings and goings fairly well.

Enter Jackson....

Never having had a puppy before, I was shocked at how much it is like having a baby in the house.  You have to move things to higher shelves, make sure he has things to put into his mouth that are safe (mostly to protect yourself from being chewed to death), and rearrange your day for potty breaks.  We were afraid to go to bed at night because the puppy wasn't on a schedule and he didn't like his crate, so we would stay up until he wore himself ragged and collapsed onto the bed Justin had bought him, which cost, approximately, more than our first house.

I had forgotten how hard it is to want to go to bed and not be able to.  I didn't want to leave Justin downstairs with the dog because he has to get up in the morning and put in a 25 hour day at his job, not to mention the fact that he usually is in charge of our dinner plans.  It just didn't seem fair that he would also assume the care of the puppy that was, well, my idea in the first place.  So I would suggest (firmly) that he go to bed so he could get up and work the next day and he would find a football game (which never fails to drive me from the room) and insist that I go upstairs.  Of course, I always gave in - fibro dictates you need sleep and Justin can be persuasive.

Eventually we fell into a routine and Jackson is now usually down for the count around 8:30 at night.  Which would be great, except that the rest of the house refuses to cooperate and keeps waking him up.  Max usually starts the fun by coming down around 9:00 and wandering around in front of Jackson, looking for attention.  He doesn't understand that Jack isn't going to pet him and Jack doesn't understand that this furry lump with feet isn't another puppy.  Round one to Max.

I started locking the cats in our bedroom as soon as Jackson went to sleep, which would then begin round two.  Kylie.  Kylie is my shy little gray and white kitty who came to live with us from a rescue at 12 weeks of age.  I do not know what happened to that cat when she was a baby, but she is scared of everything.  Except a closed door.  If the door is closed, she is on the wrong side of it and she will insist on this by scratching her front paws up and down frantically and loudly until you let her in/out.  Which she now does every night when I lock them in the bedroom trying to keep Jackson asleep.  Which, of course, wakes him up because she's loud.  Round two to Kylie.

We finally get the cats to stay upstairs and Jackson back to sleep somewhere between 10:00 and 10:30 and go up to bed.  Then the kids' rounds start up.  As soon as we close the door and try to go to bed, it never fails that Jamie needs to use the bathroom right outside our bedroom to get ready for bed.  The door hinges squeak and he usually slams the door waking the dog.  Round three to Jamie.

Enter Ben, my oldest son.  He has this really annoying habit of not wanting anything to do with us right now (something to do with being 19 and in college - parents are really stupid until you hit at least the age of 25, right?).  So often he will either not be home for dinner or decide he doesn't like what we are having and will eat "later."  Later usually involves as soon as Jamie has gone to bed and our light is out, when he will "sneak" downstairs to get a snack (or a meal, depending on how long he went without eating, waiting for us to go to bed).  Of course, as soon as Ben comes downstairs, he wakes up Jackson.  Round four to Ben.

Finally, around 11:00, things start to quiet down, about the time Justin is saying curse words under his breath and wondering why we had to have children and pets and I am trying not to cry with frustration because I just want to go to sleep.

Oh, did I mention that Joey usually spends a couple of hours talking to himself before he goes to sleep?  If I take the DSi away, so he can't play video games while hiding out underneath the blankets, and he has decided he doesn't feel like permanently damaging his eyesight by trying to read by the light from his open closet door (which wakes Justin up every time one of the cats goes in or out of the bedroom by piercing directly into his closed eyelids), he will talk to himself to keep himself company.  Sometimes very loudly.  Sometimes loudly enough to get the dog not only awake, but wondering what the hell those noises are and come investigate by barking.  What round are we up to?

I know, in theory, that this dog is eventually going to grow out of being a puppy.  He is five months old today and, really, is getting into the routine of the family pretty well.  We have some good days in there with the incredibly frustrating days.  He doesn't seem to be gnawing on us anymore, which is a good thing.  Our clothing, just in the past week or so, seems to be a little more safe from tearing due to his jumping and biting at it.  He's stopped chewing on our toes when we eat dinner without my having to shut him in the crate.  I see  a light at the end of this tunnel.  I think I can say with certainty, however, that I won't ever be getting another puppy.  If we ever (and I doubt this) have reason to want another dog, we will be finding an older, more settled, less expensive investment to share our golden years.  Because I know I don't have it in me to do this again and I am positive that if another baby animal shows up in our home, Justin will either be kicking me to the curb with it or walking out the door saying we need something from the store and forget to come back.  He loves me, but every man has his limit.

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